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Rhodesian Ridgeback Health Problems – 10 Most Common Health Issues

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally robust dogs with a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. However, like all breeds, they have predispositions to certain health issues. While a well-bred Ridgeback can be a healthy addition to your family, being prepared for potential health concerns is essential.

10 Most Common Health Problems & Issues in Rhodesian Ridgebacks:

Dermoid Sinus

A congenital skin defect that results in a tubular indentation or cyst that can become infected.

  • Symptoms: Swelling, discharge, or a visible opening along the spine.
  • Causes: Genetic, inherited from parent dogs.
  • Treatment: Surgical removal of the sinus tract is usually required to prevent infection and other complications.

2. Hip Dysplasia

A common skeletal condition where the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit or develop properly, leading to arthritis.

  • Symptoms: Limping, stiffness, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, pain.
  • Causes: Genetic and environmental factors, such as rapid weight gain and growth.
  • Treatment: Management includes weight control, exercise restriction, anti-inflammatory medications, and possibly surgical intervention.

3. Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, this condition involves malformation and degeneration of the elbow joint.

  • Symptoms: Limping, elbow stiffness, pain, and swelling.
  • Causes: Genetic predisposition, rapid growth, improper nutrition.
  • Treatment: Weight management, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, and surgery in severe cases.

4. Degenerative Myelopathy

A progressive neurological disorder that affects the spinal cord, leading to paralysis in the hind limbs.

  • Symptoms: Weakness in the hind legs, difficulty standing, dragging of the feet, eventual paralysis.
  • Causes: Genetic mutation.
  • Treatment: There is no cure, but physical rehabilitation and supportive care can improve quality of life.

5. Thyroid Problems (Hypothyroidism)

A condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, affecting metabolism.

  • Symptoms: Weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, skin problems, intolerance to cold.
  • Causes: Autoimmune thyroiditis, idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy.
  • Treatment: Lifelong thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

6. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat)

A life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself.

  • Symptoms: Distended abdomen, drooling, restlessness, unsuccessful attempts to vomit, rapid heart rate.
  • Causes: Large meals, rapid eating, exercise after eating, genetic predisposition.
  • Treatment: Immediate emergency veterinary care is required, often involving surgery to untwist the stomach and secure it to prevent recurrence.

7. Heart Problems (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)

A disease of the heart muscle that leads to decreased heart function and heart failure.

  • Symptoms: Coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, fainting.
  • Causes: Mostly genetic, with some contribution from nutritional factors.
  • Treatment: Medications to manage heart function and symptoms, including ACE inhibitors, diuretics, and beta-blockers.

8. Entropion

A condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes to irritate the surface of the eye.

  • Symptoms: Eye irritation, tearing, squinting, corneal ulcers.
  • Causes: Genetic, as part of the breed’s facial structure.
  • Treatment: Surgical correction of the eyelid position.

9. Ectropion

The opposite of entropion, where the eyelid rolls outward, exposing the eye to irritation and infections.

  • Symptoms: Eye redness, discharge, conjunctivitis.
  • Causes: Genetic, related to the breed’s facial conformation.
  • Treatment: Surgery may be required to correct severe cases, along with topical treatments for infection or irritation.

10. Allergies

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can suffer from various allergies, including food, environmental, or contact allergies.

  • Symptoms: Itchy skin, ear infections, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, paw licking.
  • Causes: Allergens from food, pollen, dust, fleas, and molds.
  • Treatment: Identifying and eliminating the allergen, antihistamines, special diets, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and possibly immunotherapy.

Precautions & Preventative Measures:

To maintain your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s health, regular veterinary check-ups are vital. A balanced diet, appropriate exercise and dental care are crucial aspects. Early detection and intervention can prevent many health issues.

  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule routine visits to the veterinarian to monitor your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s health. Regular check-ups can catch potential issues early, allowing for prompt intervention.
  • Balanced Nutrition: Consult your veterinarian to determine the most suitable diet for your dog’s age, size and activity level. Providing high-quality, balanced nutrition is essential for maintaining their optimal health.
  • Exercise Routine: Rhodesian Ridgebacks are energetic dogs that require regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Develop a consistent exercise routine that includes walks, playtime and mental challenges.
  • Dental Care: Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for preventing dental problems. Brush your Ridgeback’s teeth regularly, provide dental treats and consider professional dental cleanings as recommended by your vet.
  • Parasite Control: Protect your dog from internal and external parasites by following your veterinarian’s recommendations for regular deworming and using flea and tick prevention products.
  • Vaccination Schedule: Adhere to your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s vaccination schedule to safeguard them from preventable diseases. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccines based on their lifestyle and risk factors.
  • Grooming: Regular grooming sessions, including brushing their coat, cleaning their ears and trimming their nails, not only maintain their appearance but also help prevent skin issues and discomfort.
  • Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight for your Ridgeback to prevent obesity-related health problems. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate weight range and feeding portions.

What do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Usually Die From?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks often succumb to health issues related to genetics, including hip dysplasia, cancer and degenerative myelopathy. Heart problems, bloat and age-related conditions are also common causes of death.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Health Problems – 10 Most Common Health Issues in Rhodesian Ridgebacks